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October 23, 2009

Shorter Douthat: It's embarassing to be such a bigot

Self-styled social conservative columnist Ross Douthat admits that he's uncomfortable discussing gay marriage in public because he opposes it for no good reason:

The question came from Christopher Glazek, a fact-checker at The New Yorker, who wanted to know whether Mr. Douthat and Mr. Salam believed that former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who has apologized on behalf of his party for the Southern Strategy, should also apologize for the Republican party's gay politics.

At first Mr. Douthat seemed unable to get a sentence out without interrupting himself and starting over. Then he explained: "I am someone opposed to gay marriage who is deeply uncomfortable arguing the issue in public."

Mr. Douthat indicated that he opposes gay marriage because of his religious beliefs, but that he does not like debating the issue in those terms. At one point he said that, sometimes, he feels like he should either change his mind, or simply resolve never to address the question in public. [NY Obs]

It's understandable that Douthat doesn't like debating the issue in terms of his religious beliefs. Because he always loses to the opponent who says: "Who cares about your religion, Ross? We're talking about the criteria for civil marriage, here."

Ross said he doesn't even bother with the standard secular argument against gay marriage because nobody ever takes takes it seriously:

He added: "The secular arguments against gay marriage, when they aren't just based on bigotry or custom, tend to be abstract in ways that don't find purchase in American political discourse. I say, ‘Institutional support for reproduction,' you say, ‘I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him.' Who wins that debate? You win that debate." [NY Obs]

Ross says the notion doesn't "get traction" because it's too "abstract." Actually, nobody takes this argument seriously because any undergraduate can debunk it with concrete counterexamples from everyday life. Even Ross thinks that sterile opposite-sex couples should be allowed to get married and I'm sure he's aware that some same-sex couples raise children.

It's understandable that Ross is uncomfortable talking about gay marriage in public. He wants the state to impose his religion on other people, but he doesn't want to look like a theocrat in front of the liberal cultural elite.


Well, perhaps he's smart enough to realize that all this means he's wrong.

I don't know, I actually give Ross some credit for that answer. He has a deep religious conviction that gay marriage would corrupt an institution he regards as sacred, but he recognizes that the rules of public reason don't admit that as a political justification. And instead of ginning up some disingenuous sociological argument, he just acknowledges this. I wish they were all as honest.

I resent him for letting the government enforce his religious prejudices while knowing full well that they have no basis in reason. That's not courageous, that's sleazy. I give him credit for recognizing that secular arguments against gay marriage are bullshit that serious people don't repeat among themselves.

Now THAT'S some New York Times-level argumentation.

It is a hard life that the religious conservative in liberal elite land leads. But hey, at least he's allowed to get married, am I right?

While I don't have anything positive to say about someone who would let their personal beliefs harm another family by demanding the government participate in Apartheid against all the gay people that STRAIGHT people create, I must say that I DO find it refreshing to hear one of the religious sheep saying that they really have no good reason to oppose it. It's better than the usual anti-gay heterosexual responses which usually involve bible verses of some sort. One would think that with the average heterosexual having 3 marriages in their life, they might be more willing to step back and see how ridiculous this issue has become.

It ain't about same-sex marriage, folks. It never was, and it never will be.

It is about anti-gay Heterosexuals reporting their personal animus and bigotry at the ballot box toward all the gay people they created. When will they learn that voting on another human being's rights is, simply, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

One reason the gay marriage debate corrupts the (public image of the) Church-with-a-capital-C is that the effort they spend fighting gay marriage is about ten times what they spend on dealing with, and taking responsibility for, sexual abuse of parisioners by priests. I think this may have made the difference to gay marriage in Massachusetts, when repeal was being discussed in the legislature; I think that a lot of Catholics felt kicked in the gut, and a lot of non-Catholics went from disagreeing respectfully, to "why the F should I care what some abuser-apologist archbishop says?"

And, trying to understand Douthat, I think he might be in a really bad place -- deeply believing a lot of the more irrational stuff from his religion, with enough of a brain that the cognitive dissonance keeps threatening to boil over, spinning frantically to keep a lid on it, and perhaps feeling kicked in the gut by the conduct of the Church that he believes in. And this is sort of sad and interesting, but I sure wouldn't want to be him, and what he writes is not that useful to me.

As noted elsewhere, this Douthat Situation reminds me of a similar quandry:

In that still-genius piece, the last woman shown is starting to get it, but can't bring herself to admit out loud that she gets it (I feel sorry for her, but not for Douthat). This is where Ross is. He knows that race mixing is going to become legal, we can all see it, he just finds it icky and defends the ban on race mixing and his support of that ban on his religion.

Whoops, I wrote "race mixing" when I should have written "gay marriage." Sorry about that. Have we done this dance before?

Whether or not I agree with Douthat, I prefer his complication of the discourse to the endless, advocacy-organization-based sound-byte bare-knuckled boxing. ("destroying traditional marriage!" "keeping loving families apart!" rar!)

That said, I think before Douthat pulls the 'More Breeder Couples Necessary' card, a state-wide tour of orphan and foster care facilities are in order.

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